Approaching theatres with storytelling ideas / performances

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    From: “Ziyadliwa”
    Date: Tue, 29 Aug 2017 09:07:36 +0200

    Hello wise and wonderful tellers of tales…

    Does anyone have any experience of crafting a show / performance and then approaching theatres and similar cultural venues with the show, proposing a performance as a sort-of one-woman / one-man show?

    If so, can you give any guidelines on what to include in a proposal / pitch? And are you willing to share any dos and don’t with me, based on your experiences of doing something similar?

    Thanks so much!


    Oral Storyteller telling Wise, Wonderful & Earth Tales

    +43 (0) 660 378 2939

    Gerhild Diesner Strasse 14-8, Innsbruck, 6020, Austria


    From: “Tim Sheppard”
    Date: Tue, 29 Aug 2017 13:04:35 +0100

    Hi Ziyadliwa,

    This depends a lot on the financial arrangement you can get with the theatre.

    A good situation is where the theatre books your show, promotes it in their calendar, and pays you a guaranteed fee no matter what the attendance is like, plus a ‘box-office split’ (a percentage, negotiated by you, of the ticket sales). You’re unlikely to get this unless you have a track record and good reputation.

    Less good but far more usual is a straight box-office split, with no guaranteed fee at all. But you may be able to negotiate that you get all of the first X amount of takings, up to the level of a basic fee. Splits can be 50-50, or 40-60, or whatever, so that both you and the venue profit in proportion. This is where your pitch will make the difference – they have to want to risk being your business partner in the event. The safer it is for them, the more they’ll like it, so be prepared to prove how you’ll be able to get bums on seats (try surveying your current local fans and count how many will commit to attending). If the theatre loves your show idea they’ll be more likely to support it, so find out what their usual audiences like most, and show how you’ll appeal to those. If they’ve had storytelling shows before, so much the better (or worse, if they bombed).

    The most basic arrangement is where you simply hire the venue (and any services like lighting equipment or engineers, box-office staff – check for hidden extras). They may or may not put you in their calendar if you book far enough ahead (calendars are published several months ahead). You’ll need to also hire the time for you to set up and do any dress rehearsals (and you’ll need friends to help you with this and do ushering, checking tickets etc). This has no risks for the theatre, so it’s easy to arrange if they have any spare dates to hire out – they will just want to check that your show is not unsuitable for the venue’s image. You get all the risk and reward, and keep all the takings if there are any.

    Once you have proven your show by a success at one venue, it will be easier to get favourable terms at others. You could try doing a house concert, or a straight hire of a venue, to get that proof, and then negotiate with several venues to set up a tour of other venues. Ask the theatres what they’re looking for and what they like to do – they love the arts and will want to support you in bringing a quality show to the public. You could ask them what local directors they respect, and see if you can get such a director to work with you on crafting your show for theatre. That way the director can reassure the theatre that your show should be good. Even for a one-woman show a director is a real help – most storytellers don’t know how to use a theatre stage well, or create the best visual impression throughout the show.

    Good luck!


    From: “katedudding”
    Date: Tue, 29 Aug 2017 15:59:27 +0000

    The NSN Producers & Organizers SIG Pre-Conference Workshop: July 2007 was on
    theater and storytelling collaborations.

    The 6 page Workbook for Theater and Storytelling Collaborations
    By Nancy Donoval and Loren Nieme

    is located here:

    It starts: “As a preparation for Theater and Storytelling collaborations,
    here is a set of questions and considerations that are worth asking before
    undertaking a collaboration.”



    From: “Rivka”
    Date: Tue, 29 Aug 2017 04:52:52 -0700


    Fringe Festivals are great places to try out storytelling/theater pieces. Selection varies, most use some sort of lottery (not all) and your chances are being selected are high. You have to put out some money and do all your own marketing – but the festival also markets so you’ll be drawing from the crowd the festival brings in. Most fringes are open to all types of performance shows so folks coming to a festival to see dance or a play may discover storytelling through you. Shows get reviewed and if your quality is poor you will get negative reviews. Fringes are a great testing ground and opportunity to see how your show will play to a crowd. (Fringe performances at storytelling festivals don’t really prepare you for a fringe festival.)

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